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Old 11-12-2012, 12:10 PM   #1
buckeyecinderella
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MapMyRun vs. Runkeeper vs. GPS watch

Hello. I went for a pleasant 6 1/4 mile run yesterday. I tracked it using Map My Run on my iPhone. But I thought that my pace recorded was a little too fast for the amount of effort I felt. So I checked it out on the computer using the map my run website and my actual run was three fourths of a mile shorter than what I actually did! Bah!

So, has anyone ever compared the results of map my run versus run keeper? Do you find one more accurate than the other? Also with these applications compared to the GPS watch like a Garmin, are they more are less accurate or about the same?

I had some fairly accurate distances recorded with map my run in the past. But in the half marathon I did a few weeks ago and in the case of yesterday's run it was way off. The half marathon was off by over a mile and not in my favor.
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:10 PM   #2
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I just did a comparison yesterday with Verizon iPnone 5 Run Keeper vs Garmin since I just got my first iPhone last week. I was amazed. They both tracked same distance/pace.

I could not say that for my Verizon Droid phone. Run Keeper did not work well with my Droid Rezound and was always incredibly way off. Endomondo worked a bit better with the Droid, but still not as I would like.

I am pleased with Run Keeper on the iPhone 5 and really have liked using it in the past. I think I will continue to use RK now.

I may try to compare with how iPhone 5 runs Endomondo next time out. I still think I like RK better though.
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:51 AM   #3
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I have been running with both my iPhone 4S with Runkeeper and Garmin 405 for the past 6 months. I find that the distances are far more accurate with the Garmin then iPhone/Runkeeper. Runkeeper seems to always add more distance to the run which makes it seem like you are running faster paces.

For example, I ran two marathons in October and Runkeeper recorded distances over 27 miles for both. The Garmin distances were much closer to 26.2. It makes sense because Garmin is getting their location information from GPS satellites and the iPhone is using cell towers.

All that said, I like the Runkeeper web site a lot better then the Garmin software/web site. I also like how Runkeeper calls out your distance and pace at various intervals which keeps me from staring at my watch throughout a race.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:52 AM   #4
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More than likely you will not see much of a difference between the two phone apps as they operate similarly. Neither will be as accurate as the cheapest GPS based Garmin or other brand unit. The GPS units will not be as accurate as using actual measurements like a course certifier uses.

Why?

The garmin uses GPS satellite signals and has an accuracy in the range of plus or minus 15 feet at any given point. For most of us, this is dead on. Where a GPS based unit gets a little off is in areas where the sky is blocked (i.e. forests or downtown) or on courses where there are lots of turns. The blockage issue cuts out a satellite or two and lowers the accuracy. Turns are an issue with the program in the watch. It assumes a straight line as you move forward in an effort to give you a smoother readout as you look at the watch. If you suddenly turn right, the watch will take a reading or two to figure out where you are - lowering the accuracy for those few data points. As a side, the best way to see this phenomenon is to head to the local high school track and run 2-3 miles; making sure to stay in one lane during the run. When you look at the map post run you will see that the watch veers out into the middle of the track on most turns.

The Smart phone apps do NOT use GPS for their positioning; even though you are lead to believe that is the case. In real simple terms, the phone apps are triangulating location based on cell towers. Accuracy depends on signal strength, distance from towers and the number of towers. It can easily be plus or minus 150 feet. So as you run down the road, the app will do a good job of giving you the location and pace, but an occasion will hiccup will add distance as the app puts you a little out of position for a reading or two.

The Find My Phone app is a great app for finding where you phone thinks it is and is a great way to demonstrate the accuracy of using cell service. If your phone is on wi-fi when viewing location on Find My Phone, you can come close to locating the phone in the room of the building you are in. If on cell service, it may show up a house or two away. I know that for ATT at the Beach Club in 2011 the cell service was wonky enough to put its location on the wrong side of the road.

I use RunKeeper during races for my spectators. I subscribe to the pro level so I can be followed on line. Spectators can then simply watch your progress on line and be ready for you to come by. This is not absolute. My crew will start looking for me about the time I look to be a half mile out.

One other thing with running apps. You will notice that the battery dies rather quickly. Pre-run turn OFF the WiFI and Data (3g or 4g) antennas. The App only uses the Cell antenna. The other two antenna will go into over time looking for hot spots or trying to maximize data flow which kills the battery. Besides, do you need to email while on the run? You will be able to send and receive phone calls and text while on the cell only antenna.

Hope this helps
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cewait View Post
...((All Great Information)
One other thing with running apps. You will notice that the battery dies rather quickly. Pre-run turn OFF the WiFI and Data (3g or 4g) antennas. The App only uses the Cell antenna. The other two antenna will go into over time looking for hot spots or trying to maximize data flow which kills the battery. Besides, do you need to email while on the run? You will be able to send and receive phone calls and text while on the cell only antenna.

Hope this helps
Coach Charles you are such a treasure of information! I know to turn off the WiFI and Data (3g or 4g) antennas and almost Always forget. Thanks for the reminder. One day I will do this.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:37 AM   #6
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I use a Polar foot pod instead of GPS and after calibration I consistently get 98%+ accuracy. That is less then 10 seconds per mile off on pace. It is usually off by about 5 seconds per mile, 99% accuracy.
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:45 PM   #7
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I use a Polar foot pod instead of GPS and after calibration I consistently get 98%+ accuracy. That is less then 10 seconds per mile off on pace. It is usually off by about 5 seconds per mile, 99% accuracy.
I too regularly use a foot pod. If one really wants to track interval work on a track or run a treadmill one needs a CALIBRATED foot pod. Otherwise, I am GPS dependent. One thing of note with foot pad calibrations, one should recalibrate every 4-6 weeks, when you remove install on a different shoe and when the battery is changed. There may be some room for discussion on the latter two, but I have noticed that my foot pod loses a little accuracy due to the repositioning when changing shoes or batteries. It is not a great loss, but is noticeable. I have seen errors increase by 10% or so... But that would move it from a 1% to a 1.1% error, so not great but a nagging point for an engineer.

With regard to treadmills, I have seen errors as great as 0.5 mph between the mill and foot pod. So when you hop the club's mill and think OK I am cruising at a 10 minute pace, you may be off.
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:45 PM   #8
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You are right about switching shoes and batteries. I have measured two mile section that I put in the middle of a run 3-4 times a week to check the calibration. I like it to be really close. It bugs me when it is off.
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Old 11-16-2012, 01:42 PM   #9
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Thanks to all of you for such a wealth of information! I decided to buy the Garmin 110. I need something with more accurate distances than my cell phone apps. Plus I want to save my battery power on my phone for more important things like taking pictures or videos! Or books or music or my interval timer. I've never listened to books or music in a race but I've found it sure helps on the long training runs. Thanks again.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cewait View Post
More than likely you will not see much of a difference between the two phone apps as they operate similarly. Neither will be as accurate as the cheapest GPS based Garmin or other brand unit.

<...>

The Smart phone apps do NOT use GPS for their positioning; even though you are lead to believe that is the case. In real simple terms, the phone apps are triangulating location based on cell towers. Accuracy depends on signal strength, distance from towers and the number of towers. It can easily be plus or minus 150 feet. So as you run down the road, the app will do a good job of giving you the location and pace, but an occasion will hiccup will add distance as the app puts you a little out of position for a reading or two.
DISCLAIMER: I am a software engineer and work for RunKeeper

I am not sure which fitness apps your are referring to, indeed there are some which do not really use GPS but most of those which do not are not actually designed for outdoor tracking.

But this thread specifically asked about RunKeeper and MapMyRun... and I felt compelled to correct the gross inaccuracies in this thread. Both RunKeeper and MapMyRun most certainly do use GPS signals for tracking. With pretty much all late model smart phones the GPS chipsets are every bit as accurate as any you will find in a Garmin watch. Some older phones have much weaker GPS capabilities and may even lack gyro, accelerometer, or magnetometer sensors which can be used in addition to cell tower triangulation to help augment tracking if GPS signal is weak or missing.

Unfortunately the algorithms for interpreting the raw data are far too complicated (lots of heavy math) to go into here, but suffice it to say that there are likely to be differences from time to time in the tracks recorded by different apps or dedicated gps devices... but generally you'll only see differences when the devices need to augment with other sensors because the GPS signal is not accurate enough.

Rarely, you'll even get phone operating system bugs where the phone OS tells us that it has a strong GPS signal when in fact it does not and that is when you can really get some wacky trip maps that you sometimes see people complaining about and blaming the app when it is usually the OS with the bug, but as the smart phones are getting better this happens less and less. I've pretty much never seen this happen anymore with iOS 5.1+ or Android 4.0+

Dedicated GPS devices from Garmin and others will record bad trips too, I usually run with a Garmin watch in addition to my phone and there are many cases where my Garmin will hit "dead spots" for GPS and start reporting incorrect paces, distances, etc... and my phone always struggles a bit in the exact same spots but I often find that the phone does a little better job of getting it right in these cases (depending on the app, some only use GPS and others have algorithms to augment using other sensors).

As far as which app is better, I won't go into that as if you saw my disclaimer you'll probably know which app I prefer

Last edited by linuxfreakus; 02-28-2013 at 01:04 PM.
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